Tag Archives: grade k

No Kiln, No Problem


I love doing clay projects with my students. We have never had a kiln at one of my schools and I was told it is not possible because of fire insurance.

Because we have over 1,000 students, I use a clay from Laguna Clay called Mexal or Mexico White. It is an air dry clay that has a similar texture and hardness of kiln fired. I get it from Freeform Clay in National City. It can be delivered to your site or you can order it and then pick it up from their warehouse.

Once it dries, we use Jazz Gloss Tempera to paint them because that paint has a similar look to kiln fired glaze. To seal them you can use an acrylic spray.

Kindergarten necklaces are here.

Grade one plant plaques are here.

Grade two suns are here.

Grade three pinch pots are here

Grade four wall pockets are here

Grade five colonial houses are here

In my after school classes which are small, I have done some DIY Cold Porcelain. Those sculptures are always done on a small scale. Here is a unicorn on a marbled paper backdrop and some lovely mermaids.

I just did some bread dough lids with a few after school students. I have been making these since I was a child. I think my mom got the idea from Dough it Yourself the Morton Salt recipe book from the 70’s.

These sculptures are done on the tops of metal lidded glass jars. A great way to re-purpose an old jam or pickle jar! The lids must be metal so they can be baked in the oven at a low temp.

Here are the recipes I have used for different clay projects:

Cold Porcelain (The mermaid and unicorn are from this clay)

1 cup of cornstarch, 1 cup of white glue, 2 Tbsp of baby oil, and 2 Tbsp of lemon juice.

Cook on stove until until it holds together and pulls away from pan sides or microwave  at 15-second intervals, stirring between each one. Knead the dough for 10 to 15 minutes until it cools. Wrap it tightly and let it rest for 24 hours.


Bread Dough-(Jar lids were done with this)

1 cup flour, 1 cup salt,  1 cup water. Mix well. Create items, air dry over several days or bake at 250 degrees F until dough is hard.


White Baking Soda Dough: (Not pictured but makes great cut out ornaments)

1/2 cup cornstarch, 1 cup baking soda, 3/4 cup water

Pour all ingredients into a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, stirring consistently. When mixture has thickened and looks like mashed potatoes, remove from saucepan. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp towel.  Let rest 30 minutes, until dough is cool enough to work with. Knead dough thoroughly to get out any air bubbles.  Roll out dough 1/4″ thick.

Cut out your shapes and or stamp with an image. If dough begins to crack and dry, wrap in a damp towel and microwave 10- 15 seconds.  This should make the dough moist and make it workable again.

When complete, bake at 175 degrees F for 45-60 minutes.  Then flip over and bake an additional 45-60 minutes, or until all ornaments are hard.  Cool completely and spray with a clear protective coating.

Apple Cinnamon Dough (Love to make this as package ties for gifts. They smell so good)

2 cups of unsweetened applesauce, 2 cups of cinnamon, 1 Tablespoon White Glue

Mix well. Sprinkle counter top with cinnamon, roll dough out to 1/4 inch thick. Cut with cookie cutters, and place ornaments on a baking sheet. Can air dry over several days or oven dry in a 200° F oven for about 2-2.5 hours. Can also sand rough edges after they dry.


Kool-Aid Playdough (A fun dough to make for young children. Smells great and the colors don’t come off on your hands)

1 Cup Flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 Envelope Unsweetened  Kool-Aid, 2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1 cup water, 1 Tbsp. oil

Mix first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan until blended. Stir in water and oil. Cook on medium heat 5 min. or until mixture forms ball, stirring frequently. Cool before using.



Tissue Paper Bowls



I have done this lesson a few times and usually relate it to Dale Chihuly’s Macchias. There are a few Macchias in the Mingei collection and they are occasionally on view.

I had the opportunity over the summer to go to Chihuly Gardens in Seattle and it was amazing. I loved the boat and all the dramatic lighting.

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I did these tissue bowls with my K/1 combo class-there are only 16 students and they come with 2 helpers so it is fairly easy to do some amazing and more complex lessons with these little artists.


This child only had one layer so it is very delicate and fragile but looks so pretty.49098836.jpgI used paper bowls covered in plastic wrap and they used diluted glue to add layers of tissue. The directions were to add 4 layers of tissue. Most did that for some great results. Those with less layers have a thinner more delicate bowl. 49098870.jpg49098891.jpg49098882.jpg



13336140_10154204773829042_6344952283846368632_n (1)The San Diego Art Educator’s Association, of which I am a member, held its second annual art show for students in grades k-8.


The art went on display in the lobby of the San Diego County Office of Education in early April and stayed up until May 31 at the closing reception.


It was advertised as “juried” but there were no awards. Students received a certificate for participating which was nice. It was great to see so many student art pieces from all over the county.


Teachers could only submit eight pieces from their schools. Because I had two sites this year, I entered fifteen pieces: eight from one site and seven from the other.


As Tim the SDAEA President says, art teachers do not get compensated for entering art shows for their students. They do it because they know the value of having artists and audiences interact with art.


It was a lot of extra work for me. I spent two entire afternoons tracking down the mat board then a whole day mounting and cutting and labeling. entire afternoon but it always makes me smile to see student art displayed  and that is why I keep doing it even though so few students ever attend these events.


Van Gogh’s Cat



I saw this lesson on the internet somewhere but cannot find it now to reference it. It is based on the book Van Gogh’s cat that was published by Scholastic.

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The K/1 classes drew starry night patterns on their paper then flipped it over and drew the outline of a cat.


They cut out the cats and glued them onto a solid background.

Splat Monsters


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The Kindergarten students have been learning about color and mixing paint so we did these splat monsters. I have seen similar lessons done many different ways over the years. This is our version. It also helped use up some of the foamies that were donated to the art room. It made a very tiny dent. I still have a huge plastic bin of foamies.

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Students were given scraps of paper, a black oil pastel, scissors and glue. they were instructed to make their monster parts-eyes, horns, noses, mouths, etc. and place them in their bin. Those are the black trays that are seen in the photos. They are Lean Cuisine trays that I wash and reuse.

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I walked around the room with paint in a squeeze bottle. They could choose warm colors or cool colors for their monster. On this day, every class came with a helper so one of us had the warm colors and the other had cool colors.

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As soon as they had paint on their paper, they stopped making monster parts and folded and squished the painted paper until the paint was evenly distributed or it looked the way they wanted it to.

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They then glued the parts onto their monsters. Super fun and pretty easy 30 minutes lesson.

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Art Dog


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My students love it when we find a great art related book. The book Art Dog by Thacher Hurd is really fun.

Here is a synopsis from Amazon: “Someone has stolen the Mona Woofa from the Dogopolis Museum of Art and the police don’t even realize that they are barking up the wrong tree when they collar their number one suspect. So it’s up to Art Dog, the mysterious, masked painter who roams the streets of Dogopolis, to find the missing masterpiece. Zip! Splash! Smoosh! He paints himself a Brushmobile, and he’s off––on a wild and funny chase to capture the dastardly crooks.”

For this lesson, I did a directed drawing  of the dog with the students.


Some students wanted to draw Art Dog in his paintbrush car, some in profile and some from a front view. I just asked the students to vote and did a majority. I always let students who have a plan go ahead and those who want the help can follow me. If they wanted to do a version that I had not demoed, I went to the student’s desk and showed them how to draw the dog. We used oil pastel for this lesson.


After the dog was drawn, students could color as they chose to. My only “rule” was that the background had to be colorful and there could be little or no white paper showing when they finished.



Rhinos Who Surf



My children have loved this book since it was first read it to them. The illustrations are colorful and bright. The surfer slang makes it a fun read.


I first read the book to the students. I did a directed drawing of the rhino with them using grey oil pastel.

Students colored in their rhinos and added swim trunks, horns, eyes and swirls to the knee caps and elbows. Students drew colorful surfboards under their rhinos. They could add sky and water or use the paint for that. To make the water, students used bottles caps to make circle prints with blue, green and white tempera paint.

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